Article tools: Share:


Summer Convention is just around the corner and with it comes our focus on many of the best CFA features in all regards. One of the most significant and underutilized opportunities is the CFA Projects of the Year program. Each year, as a member of the CFA, you have the opportunity to look back at projects you’ve completed that offered the biggest challenges or were the largest sources of pride for your company. With a little polish and some great photos, your opportunity is to submit these projects for an evaluation by your peers to determine how they stack up. There are some amazing works of concrete in this association and if you haven’t tried your hand at the expanded categories and opportunities, you are really missing the boat on supercharging your marketing.

So without further adieu, we introduce you to the projects carrying the banner of 2011 Projects of the Year. From all parts of the country and from a wide spectrum of applications, these projects have been selected to represent the best quality in the CFA. How do your projects compare to these? How does your quality of concrete work compare? We’d like to hear from you next year with your own.


Private Residence by River City Foundations

They say that everything is bigger in Texas but not to be outdone, this year’s number one project as voted online by visitors to our website, is from the great state of Kentucky. River City Foundations, a CFA member since 2005, submitted this project enclosing more than 28,000 square feet of private residence. Bo Harrison of River City commented that, “this project, when completed, is said to be the second largest single-family dwelling in the area. Many of the local builders said it should have been handled by a commercial company not a residential company.”

River City Foundations was selected for the project because of work they had completed for the owner before and for their “reputation for being the best at large and complex projects,” stated owner, Bo Harrison. “This is the type of situation is what we excel at. We are known for pulling off those ‘impossible’ jobs…and doing it well.”

When asked about the complexity on this project, Harrison stated that the sheer size of the foundation put it in a new classification, even for their expertise. “It had examples of almost every type of situation you can encounter in foundation work. Most challenges could be met with careful pre-construction planning, however, some had to be met in the field at that time,” stated Harrison. “The completed foundation on this project is significantly different from the original blue print. Major changes in the field meant countless hours of dismantling wall panels and redesigning new walls to meet the homeowners specs. You might say that the design aspect was a continuous work in progress.”

The project is certainly impressive with more than 1,500 linear feet of foundation wall containing more than 600 cubic yards of concrete and 41,000 pounds of reinforcement. The project included a 12-foot walkout basement and a two-story, 24-foot tall vault. Wall heights ranged from 2’-4” to the vault walls of 24’-0” and ranged from 10 to 15 inches in thickness. The company reports that the footings were all 3’-0” wide and placed at a variety of levels with footing steps ranging from 8 inches to 5’-0” in height. There were also special footings for a recessed elevator pad and the 10- foot x 15-foot vault.

The shear size wasn’t the only thing that complicated this project. Typical of very large residences, the geometry and layout further complicated the construction. There were eleven individual radius or curved walls with radii from 2’-0” to 38’-2” and a total length of 223’-0”. The foundation also had freestanding columns up to 3’-4” square and 7’-0” in height along with concrete floors and ceilings in the vault. When asked about their preparation for the project, Harrison responded, “approximately two weeks prior to the start date was spent proofing the blueprint, discovering errors and planning a schedule. We visualized how to stage equipment and designed ways to most effectively facilitate some of the more complex concrete placements.” Estimating was also a challenge and required multiple trips to the job site before elevation shots and layout could commence. Although significantly more detailed than a traditional set of plans and specifications, the architectural and engineering blueprints required intense scrutiny due to the level of detail involved with the full project.

Technology played a significant role in the success of the project for River City Foundations as they solved the complex layout of more than 700 individual points with a robotic total station. Concrete pumps delivered the concrete to much of the foundation due to the size and height of many of the wall areas.

“Being as the project schedule spanned different seasons, the working conditions varied from oppressive heat and mud to frozen ground and snow. Every day brought new challenges and new decisions,” stated Harrison. “We at River City Foundations are very excited and proud to have been selected as the overall CFA winner for Project of the Year. We are blessed to have such a great work force of men and women. I am very proud of the quality and pride that goes into all of our foundation jobs, big or small. I think this and many other reasons are why we maintain more than our fair share of the work in this market, despite the very slow economy.”

Bo Harrison, River City Foundations says “All of us at River City Foundations would like to thank the CFA for giving us the opportunity to show the process and excellence that goes into the artwork of concrete.”


Private Residence by Ekedal Concrete, Inc

A staple in our awards program these past few years has been Ekedal Concrete and some of the masterpiece challenges that they have landed up and down the West Coast. Truly amazing foundations perched or built into the cliffs in communities surrounding Orange County, this company has developed a reputation for doing big, doing it well and doing it often. The winning entry for the Single Family over 5,000 square foot housing category this year is a 13,000 square foot installation in Newport Beach, California.

This project, like many of Ekedal’s projects, is radically different than the traditional idea of foundation construction found through the majority of CFA members. It encompassed many different phases all of which were very critical to the success of the job, as you would expect from a mega project like this. However, the project started with drilled caissons at the rear of the property against the existing sea wall. Next, the existing sea wall was removed and a new sea wall location was placed. “We then started drilling 24” diameter soldier piles, thirty two of them in all placing 162 yards of concrete,” stated vice president Ryan Ekedal. The piles combined for a total depth of 1,303 feet and we excavated 220 yards of spoils.

Additional project totals included 680 yards of concrete in the walls and footings, a 50 cubic yard 36-in. thick matt slab and 170,000 pounds of reinforcement. Keep in mind the high seismic requirements of this region.

Due to the water table, 22-inch casings were used on each hole to prevent collapse due to the presence of sand and water. When the correct depths were reached, the casings were pulled by crane and I-Beams, which totaled 190,000 lbs of steel, were placed followed by the caisson pours. This process was intensive and required the use of a 10,000-gallon Baker tank on site for the pumping of water and contaminants of each caisson location. Due to the presence of water in each caisson, the use of a tremie on the boom pump was key. This is a method where a long pipe is kept submerged in the water while concrete is pumped through it to the base of the pour. The rising concrete displaces the water until the form is filled.

The project continued once all caissons and piles were in place. “Well points were drilled to install and set up the dewatering system for the balance of the foundation construction. “We had a total of eight (8) well points which were 30 feet deep and we ended up pumping out well over a 1,700 hundred gallons per minute back into the ocean,” stated Ekedal. The pumps, powered by 75kVA generators, ran constantly 24 hours per day while on-site cameras monitored the process after hours to ensure the site was secure from vandalism. For peace of mind back-up diesel generators were on standby to take over if a power outage were to occur. Additionally, the team implemented a warning system to alert them if the water table on-site reached a certain elevation to prevent at catastrophic event on the property or any of the adjacent multi-million dollar properties.

All of this transpired and they had yet to start the basement. Next came the excavation of the basement and to say the least it was a tedious obstacle. “During this phase and the balance of our scope of work, we had a civil engineer come out and monitor the projects shoring walls to ensure we weren’t sucking any sand out from beneath of the neighboring properties due to the dewatering pumps,” stated Ekedal. “Because of the massive size of the excavation and the soil conditions we were dealing with, we designed a lateral shoring system which included six (6) 24-inch structural pipes set by a crane and welded into place horizontally, which went from property line to property line and remained in place until the walls were poured.”

Once the lagging was installed and the bottom of grade (-17 feet) was reached, the contractor proceeded to pour a 77 cubic yard, 4-inch waste slab that was then waterproofed with 2 layers of salt water paraseal. This was topped with a 60 cubic yard, 3-inch cover slab to protect the waterproofing membrane from puncture during rebar installation. “Initially designed as a slab on grade we suggested a switch to a thick mat slab to further add weight because we were essentially building this large project floating on sand and water,” stated Ekedal. “We were then able to start the mat slab, which ranged from 27” to 36” thick and totaled 530 cubic yds of concrete with nearly 105,000 pounds of steel.“ The team then moved on to the shotcrete and poured-in-place walls with 2 layers of paraseal applied. They formed and shot over 200 cubic yards of concrete and placed another 65,000 pounds of steel for walls that were 11 feet tall and 12 inches thick. Finally, they set up and poured structural deck in some of the key areas.

“This is definitely one of those projects where all of our experience, pre-construction planning, and design comes into fold and plays a major part in the success of the project,” states Ekedal. “Building a basement of this size, essentially on water at -17 feet below sea level, surrounded by million dollar homes challenges us to live up to our motto of “perfection”. We lived up to it again.”


Private Residence by Basement Contractors and Herbert Construction Company

Often times, the most successful projects are those where collaboration and high-quality construction overcomes the challenges of design and location. The CFA has long been built on the concept of networking and collaboration and this year’s winning entry to the above-grade home category is certainly outstanding evidence to that fact. A project that began with an inquiry to CFA Member, Purinton Builders of Connecticut as a distributor for CFA Member, Thermomass. Purinton referred the owner to CFA Member, Basement Contractors of Oklahoma based on their expertise in all concrete homes and regional close-ness to the project site. Mike Hancock of Basement Contractors then realized that having a partner located closer to the project and one that might be able to handle the schedule of the project would be advantageous and he quickly brought in CFA Member, Herbert Construction of Georgia. The result is an above-grade concrete home masterpiece ready to stand the tests of storms and time.

The home consists of two stories in addition to a full Terrace Level (walkout basement). There are two, 2-car garages. One of the 2-car garages was over a structural concrete slab to create a safe room in the Terrace Level. The rear porch was an elevated structural concrete slab. The rest of the home had conventional wood flooring. The typical first floor wall height was 12’-0” tall and rose to 24’-3 1/4”. The typical second story wall height was 10’-9 1/4” tall. There were also many gable ends in the exterior walls that were formed and poured in concrete.

The project involved considerable materials with nearly 1,500 cubic yards of concrete and more than 86,000 pounds of steel reinforcement and walls that ranged from 10 inches to 18 inches in thickness. Beyond the all concrete house, the team also constructed more than 100 feet of 15’-3” tall serpentine retaining wall to support the site development.

The number of openings and services increased the complexity of the wall pours. In all, there were 85 window and door openings in the exterior concrete walls. Many of them were arched at the top. Herbert Construction installed over 200 electrical boxes for switches and outlets in the wall forms that were then cast monolithically in the concrete.

“The owners and architect chose a concrete home for its energy efficiency, indoor air quality, immunity to termites, resistance to hurricane-related winds, and overall security,” stated Amanda Morris, Vice President of Operations for Herbert Construction. “The CFA network delivered a complete solution as we were responsible for the construction of the walls, and Basement Contractors provided deck construction design and assistance and placed all flatwork. Purinton Builders was the distributor for the Thermomass insulating system. The combination of Basement Contractors, Herbert Construction, Purinton Builders and Thermomass delivered an efficient building envelope solution. The general contractor, Clayton Kresge was instrumental in choosing Thermomass for the project and was very happy with the completed project.”

This project was difficult for the team to reach from their home bases. Located in Bush, Louisiana, the job was ten (10) hours away. Forms and much of the equipment were shipped to the site by common carrier. “While we were on location,” states Barry Herbert, President for Herbert Construction, “for several weeks the temperature hovered around 105 degrees with humidity in the 90’s. The area was experiencing one of the wettest years, which complicated the project with rain and mud.”

In all, the network approach to this project combined with additional technology of robotic total stations and a CAD system designed specifically for foundations allowed the efficient communication from the office to the jobsite to deliver an efficient construction and a striking residence.


11 River by MPW Construction Services

Seeming precariously-perched on the banks of the the Rocky River in Rocky River, Ohio, the 11 River project by MPW is your selection for this category in 2011. From start to finish the project posed challenges beginning with the fact that river waters were as close as 10 feet to the foundation lines. This was further complicated by the fact that at the front of the units the foundation walls were within 25 feet of a hillside that rose vertically 75 feet to the houses above. Each of the five units had 20 feet of elevation change from the rear of the to the front.

“A site this tight meant there was no room for errors,” states Sean Smith of MPW. “Robotic total stations were used to layout the points in such tight quarters with accuracy and consistency.” At 6,500 square feet, the project offered complex offsets and stepping forms to accommodate the changing elevations and profile against the river.

The soils conditions on the site created another challenge. All footings were converted to grade beams 3 feet wide by 2 feet thick.

These were formed on top of piles driven into the riverbed. The 8-inch foundation walls ranged from 1 to 16 feet tall and were the least di” cult portion of the job to construct. Combined with the grade beams and piles, they totaled 650 cubic yards of concrete and more than 48,000 pounds of steel.

“We were selected as the contractor to build this project for several reasons,” stated Smith. “We have worked on other projects with the owners and they were comfortable with our competency, skill level, and ability to keep their project moving with their construction schedule. Prior to construction we met with the owners and the architects and helped to develop foundation details that worked conceptually as well as functionally.”

Smith further commented that, “each footing and wall combination had its own shop drawing completed. To date half of the foundations are in and half of the retaining wall along the hillside has been replaced. In the spring of 2011 construction will resume on the next building.”

Want to know more about this project? Come to the CFA Summer Convention and hear the story retold from the contractor’s perspective during a project-focus seminar.


The CFA Projects of the Year do not stop at just category winners and an overall best project. Honorable mentions bring to light the value of additional projects that demonstrate merit in their complexity, quality and accomplishments. This year is no different as two projects were selected to receive honorable mention for their contributions to the industry.


Greenbuild Legacy Project by Biltmore Insulated Concrete, Inc.

This project is a case study designed to demonstrate, through the cooperative effort of various local consultants, product manufacturers, and volunteers, the idea of next generation, affordable housing. Two homes were constructed in this effort, Legacy A – an all concrete home constructed with insulated concrete forms (ICF) and Legacy B – a more traditional, lumber-framed home. Legacy A was built for GreenBuild based on a partnership with Bank of America and Habitat for Humanity Lake County and Legacy B was completed soon after to continue with the research.

Both homes have the same floor plan and appearance, differing only in the two construction methods. Legacy A, the GreenBuild Legacy Home project, is an entire envelope of ICF construction. Legacy B, the second home built as an instructional opportunity for GreenBuild attendees, consisted of 2×6 framing, one (1) inch extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulated wall sheathing and two (2) inches of closed cell spray foam on the interior stud cavity. Both homes were targeted to achieve LEED for Homes Platinum. Actual construction cost data and performance will be tracked and published for both homes once both are complete.

“The home will achieve LEED Gold certification for sure and a 95% probability of LEED Platinum,” states Eric Barton of Biltmore. “All the final documentation and points are not yet final but are in the works. I can’t wait for the blower door results between the stick framed & this concrete home!”

As a concrete home, the structure is 2,780 square feet with 222 linear feet of concrete wall and totaling nearly 60 cubic yards of concrete. Walls, including gable walls for the roof, have 6.25-inch concrete cores.

“There was as section of 17 foot tall wall above grade which we poured all in one lift,” stated Barton. “The pump truck operator stated that he had never seen a stronger ICF wall system during a pour.”

The results of blower door testing is perhaps one of the most striking differences between these two projects. Since both were designed for LEED Platinum compliance, operational efficiency was to be a focus. As tested by Jim Cavallo of Kouba-Cavallo Associates, Inc., Legacy A achieved 1.32 ACH @ 50 pa while Legacy B managed only 3.03 ACH @ 50pa. “I’ve been involved in other homes done with concrete including precast. This is the tightest home I have ever tested.”, states Mr. Cavallo. “It was a great example for many home builders, not just those for affordable housing but for upscale homes of all types and sizes. You can build very tight and energy-efficient with very good indoor air quality using controlled ventilation. Since the home was designed to be so tight, a heat recovery ventilator was used. It operates continuously so you can make the envelope very tight and still maintain good air-flow and ACH. You take advantage of the air leaving to help condition the entering outdoor fresh air.”

Eric Barton is a CFA Certified Concrete Technician, and member of CFA. His company, Biltmore Insulated Concrete, Inc. offers fellow CFA members discounts on the Logix ICFs materials which Biltmore distributes nationwide.

Visit their website at or call them at (847) 681-1973 for more information.


Lytle Residence by Basement Contractors, Inc.

Keeping with the significance of LEED in today’s home design and construction, this project built in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma saw considerable focus on delivering a sustainable residence.

“There were several outstanding features in this residence that bear mentioning,” states Mike Hancock of Basement Contractors. “The whole project was built to LEEDS platinum certification so all measure of recycling and material waste was considered.”

This project was an all concrete home with a walkout basement utilizing the Thermomass Building Insulation system both in the basement walls and in the main floor walls. A total of 4,285 square feet sits on top of a 4,115 square foot basement with an attached 1,512 square foot garate. Nearly 700 cubic feet of concrete and more than 54,000 pounds of  were placed in walls that varied from 21 to 26 feet on the house. Additionally, there were 8, 9 and 10-foot tall retaining walls on the site. Wall thicknesses varied from 8 to 14 inches in thickness, continuously insulated in the center of the wall.

“To complicate matters the basement had a sunken theater area with multiple levels of seating which required the pouring of 16’ tall walls in the basement around the theater area,” states Hancock. “The master bedroom on the main level is cantilevered out over the walkout portion of the basement and was built with a concrete rim and columns that support the exterior concrete walls of the master bedroom. Structurally, this was quite a challenge”

The porch area was built with a large arched block out on top of concrete columns that were poured monolithically. The kitchen area has a half circled wall with 6 window block outs. Both the main floor and the basement included a multitude of electrical conduit and electrical boxes poured in place with the walls. The concrete garage walls were poured with 3 very large garage door block outs with the main floor.

The project also required a 20,000-gallon cistern to be built on the south end of the house to collect all rainwater from the roof and concrete areas of the house complete with concrete lid and a sediment-filtering tank.

“Our reputation as the premier residential poured wall contractor in the state of Oklahoma, according to the owner, was the primary reason we were challenged with this project,” states Hancock. “This is combined with the fact that we are the only certified installer of the Thermomass product in the Midwest and had worked on several jobs for the builder that the homeowners had selected. It was a recipe for a great challenge and an even greater success.”

When asked about the significance of this project, Hancock stated: “This project is the proud centerpiece of a lifetime of building basements in and around the state of Oklahoma. Throughout the project we utilized almost every aspect of concrete construction we have experience with including a couple we had not previously performed. We celebrated this project as the 500th basement that we, as a company, have completed.

We realize for some companies 500 basements might be what they complete in a year but for our relatively small company this is quite a feat. In the state of Oklahoma basements are not built as ‘the norm’ as they are in most northern states and it has been a challenge on itself to build our company into an accepted form of residential foundations amongst builders and homeowners alike. If you ask most Oklahomans if they can build a basement in the state of Oklahoma most would tell you ‘no,’ they would say the clay soils shift too much or the water table is too high. Well, we are here to prove them wrong and continue to do so on a daily basis.”

Next Year – Your Turn!

If you have not given consideration to participating in this competition for one reason or another, we invite you to challenge yourself and your company but submitting for the 2012 Projects of the Year competition.

It only takes a little planning and preparation, much like a great project delivery; to reflect on the challenges of projects you’ve been involved. We continue to broaden the categories to which your projects can be submitted as we seek to embrace the complex construction environment our members operate. This continues to be a no cost program for you as a direct benefit for your membership in the CFA.

Why not get started now. Visit our Project of the Year archives online and find out the types of information companies submit, the photos they represent and the way they describe the challenges they face. You can even download next year’s application and get ahead of the game. Do you have a unique project type that doesn’t fit our categories?

Don’t discount your work, contact us and find out how we’d like to handle it. Your chance to publicize your company and your achievement is waiting for you… just ask any of the companies featured in this article.

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook Connect with us on Concrete Foundations CFA Members Connect with us on CFA Members


About Us

Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us